Week In Brief - December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021
A short roundup of some of the week's payments news you may have missed. This week we look at the UK FCA's proposal to double its minimum fees, Microsoft's new BNPL update, a fine imposed on a Latvian bank for AML failures, and a new payment system cooperation between Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

UK: FCA Doubles Its Fee For the Pleasure Of Regulating You

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that the minimum fee it charges financial firms to cover the costs of regulation will nearly double from the current £1,151 to £2,200.

The conduct regulator said the new fee “will better reflect the costs associated with the authorisation and supervision of 51,000 firms throughout the UK".

In addition, the FCA said it is also proposing changes to the calculation of consumer credit firm fees to bring them more into line with the fees charged to other types of firms it regulates.

The FCA took over regulation of consumer credit firms from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in 2015. OFT fees were very low, and as part of the transition and to support smaller firms, the FCA introduced a low tiered minimum charge based on regulated income.

Fees currently range from £106 to £530 for limited permission firms and £318 to £1,061 for full permission firms. Under the new proposal, minimum fees will increase to between £250-£750 and £750-£1,151 respectively.

The FCA is committed to investing £120m over the next three years to help it identify firms and individuals of concern, which is part of its plan to transform to a more innovative and assertive regulator.

According to the FCA, the regulator carries a yearly round of consultations and policy proposals that it uses to set fees for the next financial year. This process starts in October, when it begins to develop the fee rates and fees policy for the coming financial year (April to March). However, despite this annual review, the FCA claims that fees have remained largely unchanged for ten years.

The FCA will consider all feedback received through its consultation, but expects to implement changes in time for the 2022/23 fee cycle.

U.S.: Microsoft Faces Criticism From Customers For Embedding BNPL In Edge Browser

Two weeks ago Microsoft announced in a blog post its plans to embed a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option on its Edge browser. On Thursday (December 2), the service went live with the v64 update of Edge.

Partnering with BNPL provider Zip, customers will be able to split any purchase into four instalments over six weeks of between $35 and $1,000. Microsoft Edge browser users will be offered the option when they visit any retailer’s checkout site, even those that do not offer BNPL.

According to Microsoft’s frequently asked questions page, after an initial free period, Zip will charge a flat fee of $1 per transaction — effectively meaning each BNPL purchase will cost customers $4 based on the four-instalment model.

However, there has been a mixed response from customers. According to one user commenting on the original blog: “This sounds like an awful idea that will only be seen as a shameless cashgrab … The negative press this feature is going to receive isn't worth it.”

Others complained that it was a default option in the browser. “To bake this into the browser is such a bad idea! This needs to be a user option period! Don't force this on everyone.”

Latvia: Bank Regulator Fines PrivatBank For AML Failures

Latvia’s Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has imposed a €768,653 fine on PrivatBank for deficiencies in the bank’s anti-money laundering (AML) programme.

According to the bank regulator: “PrivatBank had not established an internal control system in the field of AML/CTPF commensurate with its operational risk that would ensure effective compliance with the requirements of the AML/CTPF Law and underlying regulatory requirements.”

In addition to the penalty, the FCMC imposed a series of measures aimed at addressing the identified shortcomings. These include obligations that the company improve risk management culture commensurate with the nature of its activities and ensure that its full-scale internal audit functions properly.

Asia, Middle East: Indonesia And UAE Strengthen Payments System Cooperation

Bank Indonesia and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen payment system cooperation.

The agreement focuses on three main areas: digital innovation in financial services and payments; cross-border payment systems, particularly in the area of retail payment; and its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing framework.

The UAE’s central bank said in a statement that the agreement also seeks to improve bilateral collaboration in the fields of payment systems and digital financial innovation, including conventional and Islamic finance.

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